Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums, San Francisco style

The refrigerator is full and I still have a lot of shopping to do, but I can't really do any more until Friday or nothing will be fresh. I've been trying to lay in all the staples and prepare what I can ahead of time. I have three containers of pasta sauce ready to go and there is more cheese in this house than there has been all year. I don't know why I bought so much cheese but we have enough to last well into January.

Christmas Eve dinner is here. It has been for the past 15 years or so. My parents and my aunt came here along with my sister in law and niece because my brother always had to work. Every few years Steve's parents would be here too. Other siblings either stayed home or went to their inlaw's homes. Now my dad, Steve's mom and my aunt are gone, and I feel it most when planning this dinner. On the happier side, my brother has a new career so he joins us too. This year Eddie's girlfriend is coming too. We will be eleven.

We always have cracked crab and ravioli. It's tradition, though I'm not really sure why. I don't even eat crab (allergic), Steve eats just a bit, Eddie eats nothing that swims, my niece Emma is a vegetarian and Maggie obviously has her own food. But it's Christmas and this is WHAT WE DO. The other six will love it. Actually I love it too, even if I don't partake. Crab season starts around this time of year and many homes in the San Francisco area have crab.

I ordered the crab from Swan's Oyster Depot and it will be fresh when I pick it up at 10AM on Christmas Eve. The line will be 20 deep all day long, just for people picking up previously ordered crab. One Christmas Eve I didn't order it ahead of time and I was out of luck. I paid much more for shelled crab. Folks loved it but it's not as much fun as cracking the crab, finding the meat and piling up the shells.

Every Christmas Eve I spend about two or three hours buying the freshest possible food. It's another tradition and I love it. I stand in line at Swan's then at the Italian deli for the ravioli and then at the bakery for fresh sourdough. I used to wait over an hour at a separate bakery to buy fresh foccacia bread, but no more.Something had to give. I will buy that tomorrow and the boys can scarf it down on Thursday. I actually have fun because everyone is in a great mood doing the same thing. If they are shopping at these stores, they know they have to wait and it becomes part of the tradition. I have great conversations with people in the line.

This year I think Maggie and I will head out early and make the crab our last stop. When Maggie is with me people are especially great. She entertains everyone - but we never get cuts.

She's charming, but not magical.


  1. Ahhhh Christmas in San Francisco:) I hope you get your ravioli at Lucca Deli on Valencia Street!!!! Excellent fogaccia bread there too!

  2. Merry Christmas from the Banks family (Shirley and Rhonda)in San Leandro! Enjoy your crab! It must be San Francisco tradition....I had mine day before yesturday! Happy Holidays once again!


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